Over the past decade, e-cigarettes have become increasingly popular as smoking has been banned in more and more places. There is a common perception that e-cigs are less dangerous than regular cigarettes. Many people have found that smoking e-cigs, or "vaping" as it's often called, has helped them either cut back on cigarettes or even quit altogether. As the vaping culture grows, however, some people have started to wonder-what really makes up the juice, or e-liquid, that is heated and inhaled? Is it really any safer than a cigarette? |
The Safety of Nicotine
E-liquid is usually made up of diluted nicotine, propylene glycol (PG), vegetable glycerin (VG), and flavorings. Nicotine, while extremely addictive, is not considered a carcinogen. Besides the tobacco plant, nicotine can be found naturally in plants such as tomatoes and eggplants. Even though it is natural, it is not necessarily safe: nicotine has been linked to plaque buildup in the heart, and in large enough doses it can be fatal to humans. The dilution level of the nicotine used in e-cigs is usually 100mg/mL, although it can be diluted down to as much as 25mg/mL
Although some e-liquid blends are available without nicotine, the FDA does not regulate vape juice. Some tests have shown that even the majority of combinations labeled nicotine-free did in fact have some levels of the substance.
Propylene Glycol and Vegetable Glycerin
Propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin are usually combined in varying proportions to create an ideal blend of smoothness. PG is commonly used in the food industry in products such as food coloring and ice cream. It is colorless and, except for a faintly sweet smell, nearly odorless. PG is non-toxic and the FDA generally considers it safe. However, the long-term effects of inhalation have not been studied.
VG is a sweet, thick liquid that is vegetable-based and used as a sweetener in many food products. It is also non-toxic and considered safe by the FDA. Again, however, it is unknown how the inhalation of this product over time can affect the lungs in long-term users.
The Effects of Flavorings
Most of the flavorings used in e-liquid are food-grade, although the unregulated market means that the sources of these flavors can be questionable. Flavors come in a huge variety of choices, from a simple menthol flavor to creative options such as strawberry, pink champagne, bubble gum, candy apple, and cappuccino. The safety of these depends entirely on sourcing the product from a reputable (preferably U.S.-based) company.
Ultimately, it is still too early to know how these products will affect users over a long period of time. While there are certainly fewer ingredients that are already known to be harmful than are found in cigarettes, experts hesitate to call e-cigarettes "safe." Long-term smokers who use e-cigs as a cessation aid are obviously better off. However, there is an increased danger of non-smokers becoming addicted to nicotine because of the vape culture and the appeal of the flavorings. If you do choose to smoke e-cigs, be aware that as we learn more about the consequences of smoking e-liquid, we may find new dangers involved.
When considering e-liquid, Oklahoma residents visit Vaper Tek. Learn more at http://www.vaperstek.org.
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